Thursday, August 17, 2023

Pop-up Montana wedding: Here comes the surprised, speechless bride!

The clan gathered for a birthday party for Christene "Cookie" Meyers, but she didn't know it was also a wedding.  Her longtime partner, photographer Bruce Keller, had arranged the ceremony with
the couple's niece and nephew, Amarylla and Steve Ganner. "Father Steve" officiated.

"Father Steve," a San Francisco lay minister, has 
officiated at other weddings. He and his wife,
Cookie's niece Amarylla, secretly arranged
with Keller to add a wedding to the birthday bash.


(including selfies on timer)

"The past is prologue." William Shakespeare

WHEN ANTONIO delivers that famous line in "The Tempest,"  he means that everything that has gone before sets the scene for what happens next. In my life, that rings true.
I met Bruce William Keller 17 years ago --  symmetry in this crazy world. I was reeling from serious loss, considering the nunnery.
Then I met Keller. Kind, funny, sweet Keller.
Niece Amarylla, and great-nieces Peny and
Isabella, enjoy weekend companionship.

Little did I know that my two late husbands' first names -- Bruce and William -- were also his first and middle names. Are they keeping an eye on me from The Great Beyond? 
A love of travel and the arts brought us together.  In those next high-flying years, we'd log close to a million airline miles.  We've had so darned much fun, visiting family and friends in Oregon, New York, California, Georgia, New Zealand, Israel, 
The party's mountain backdrop in the Beartooths.
Great Britain, Italy, Norway and more.
Niece Kelly, sister Olivia,
and nephew Orion.
Nieces Ariel and Elliana.
BUT I CERTAINLY didn't guess that he'd cook up a wedding proposal a few days ago.
At our family reunion parties, there are two conditions:  One is that everyone must wear a hat, a tradition begun years ago by my behatted grandmother and mum.  The other is that we tell stories.  Everyone must come up with a line or two, an anecdote, a joke, a poem or song about the honoree.
Future groom: day before the birthday party,
the guys got together for a group photo.

Sister-in-law Jane
Milder made a
lovely wreath.
So when it came Keller's turn, he told a couple  Cookie stories.  (My favorite is how I fixed our new Audi's alternator with a motel coat hanger in Wallace, Idaho, so we could make the Oregon Shakespeare Festival opening.)
Nieces "Izzy" and Peny
with one of the clan pups.
AFTER THE laughter subsided, Keller said he had a "surprise guest."  He introduced our niece's husband (our adopted nephew).  "Father Steve, from Scotland is here to perform a special ceremony."  Then on bended knee, he asked, "Cookie, will you marry me?"
Girl time, the night before the official party.
Poems, songs, tall and short tales prevailed.
Oh, my, that was a shock.  We'd talked about formalizing our long relationship.     So here we were now, in my native state, surrounded by family. ''I'd be delighted," was my reply.  
OUR ROMANCE began two years after the death of my second husband, William Jones, and happily  continued many of the themes of my two earlier long-term relationships, first with Bruce Kemp Meyers, then Billy, now my adored "Keller."

Brother Rick delivers
an ode at the party.
With all three of these talented, energetic guys, I traveled, painted, wrote, played music, danced, hiked and cavorted.
With Billy, a well known national film critic, I covered many movie premieres. With Bruce, a gifted writing teacher and actor, I performed in dozens of plays and musicals. With Keller, I continued my passion for the arts.  Thankfully, he loves theater, too.
I've been lucky to have these fun, fulfilling chapters in my life, filled with plenty of good times and some deep, dark sadness.
I'm crossing my fingers that this latest chapter is a long one filled with continuing adventure, joy and enough pluck to survive inevitable sorrow.   
I'm one lucky girl who's had the world's three most happy fellas.

An Alexander Calder sculpture, "Two Discs," created in 1965,
resides at Tippet Rise to welcome visitors and set the tone. 

UP NEXT: Tippet Rise is an extraordinary arts and music show case in Montana.  Its founders aim to integrate music, art and nature and to make this unique merging available for all.  A lottery determines the lucky few who may attend concerts in the small, acoustically perfect Olivia "Barn."  The season is brief and runs from the end of August for only a few weeks with world class performers, including soloists and string quartets. If you didn't win tickets, you can plan a visit to this extraordinary place next season. We'll take you on a couple tours: one to the sculptures and one that studies the geology of this place, where dinosaurs once roamed. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on the arts, travel, nature, family and more:


  1. San Francisco RomanticsAugust 18, 2023 at 7:29 AM

    This is one of the sweetest love stories we've heard. Continue the fun and love. Adorable family, too.

  2. We enjoy your travels and adventures, and this story is truly special.

  3. You send out so much love and it is returned! Wonderful story.